Reading at St. Columba’s

Reading at St. Columba’s

Reading and Phonics

At St Columba’s we encourage children to develop a love of reading through broadening their reading experiences. We value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is key for academic success and so to ensure we have a holistic approach to the teaching of reading, we implement the following:

  • Children take part in daily reading lessons, where children are exposed to a range of different texts and can demonstrate their understanding and thinking behind these.
  • We are very lucky to have a wide range of reading books in our school. All children from Nursery to Year 2 choose a reading book to take home and this reading book is changed regularly. As children in Key Stage 2 become more independent readers, they are encouraged to bring in their own books from home to read in school.
  • Our school Library has a selection of books which are directly linked to the curriculum, relevant class topics and also include books which can be chosen for Reading for Pleasure. Every fortnight, children in KS2 have the opportunity to choose their own book from the Library. Our dedicated Library Monitors are excellent librarians and ambassadors for all.
  • Children are read to each day by their class teacher. This could be a book that the teacher recommends to the class or a recommendation from a child.
  • Children have the opportunity to read aloud in assemblies, Masses, during Guided Reading sessions, in whole class reading activities and in lessons throughout the curriculum.
  • Each classroom has a reading area that is filled with books suitable for their reading age. This is a comfortable place for children to read throughout the day.
  • Reception and Year 6 have the opportunity to take part in ‘Reading Buddies’, in which a Year 6 child is paired with their Buddy in Reception and they meet once a week to share a book together.
  • Children who are not yet ‘free readers’, will work through our school reading scheme – these are levelled books which match the children’s current reading age. We expect family at home to read these books with their child daily and make comments in their child’s reading record.

In EYFS and KS1, children are heard to read regularly. This can be individually or in small groups. Children will receive reading books to take home from our reading scheme and experience listening to a variety of stories. They will also begin to learn phonics through our Read Write Inc scheme. As they move through the key stage, children will also begin to develop their verbal and written comprehension skills.

In Lower KS2, children are heard to read in small groups and will continue to receive books from our reading scheme to take home. The children will be encouraged to supplement their home reading books with other material from class or the school libraries. As they progress through the key stage, they will broaden their reading by experiencing a variety of text types, lengths and structures. Children will also continue to develop their verbal and written comprehension skills.

In Upper KS2, children continue to be heard to read in small groups. They are encouraged to read independently at home and talk about their reading with parents or carers. Children are welcome to borrow any reading material from the class libraries, reading scheme or are offered the opportunity of free choice reading material. As they progress through the key stage, they will continue to broaden their reading experience and deepen their understanding of various texts, expressing this verbally as well as in written comprehension.

As part of our school planning processes, teachers plan and prepare the following:

  • A cycle of Guided Reading lessons, using a wide range of different texts;
  • Question stems which are used to inform questions based on the class text;
  • Field of White activities
  • Key Links to VIPERS:

At St Columba’s we have taken a new approach to developing reading across school.  We have launched the Literacy Shed’s ‘Reading Vipers’.  The Reading Vipers approach will help to develop key comprehension skills which will enable all pupils to become successful readers.  Each of the letters stand for one of the key areas of learning:

V – vocabulary                                                  

I – infer

P – predict

E – explain

R – retrieve

S – sequence (KS1) summarise (KS2)

Below is a link to the Literacy Shed website where there is a set of example comprehension questions that can be used when reading with your child at home.  There is a booklet for Key Stage 1 children and one for Key Stage 2 children.

At St Columba’s our school reading scheme includes books from:
• Read Write Inc
• Ginn
• Oxford Reading Tree
• Project X

Additional Reading Opportunities

There are many additional reading opportunities.  As well as reading at Mass and at assemblies, lessons such as science, history, geography and R.E, offer children the chance to develop their research skills.  Book clubs provide an opportunity to develop ‘reading for pleasure’ with members of staff present who can encourage children and support their book choices.


At St. Columba’s, we have recently moved from ‘Read Write Inc’ to ‘Little Wandle’. As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge.

For parents, more information about our phonics scheme, including videos and tutorials, can be found at:

Assessment of Reading

Regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning. Teachers in EYFS and Key Stage 1 complete regular Read Write Inc. assessments and plot children onto a tracking grid, which ensures children are grouped appropriately in phonics. Our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.

Attainment in reading is measured termly using Cornerstones Assessments and at the end of each phase using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally.

Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.

However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all children the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum. Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books objectively. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles.

Parental support is crucial in the development of a child’s reading ability. We love to read your comments in reading diaries. Thank you for your continued support.